Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Photo Guide

I invite you to take a brief tour through images of this myna sized woodpecker. I have handpicked images which captures the key features of the bird. By seeing these photos, and reading the tips below, you can easily recognize this bird. I encourage you to make your own mental notes of features you find unique and striking.
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker

Photo Courtesy of Nagarajan Kanna @ Bandipur National Park,Karnataka, Apr 2014

You can tell that this is a male bird by the red crest. You can confirm his identity as a yellow-crowned woodpecker by noting the yellow patch in his forehead as well as his black wings with white spots.Note how a smoky brown irregular patch starts from around his lower cheeks down to the sides of the neck onto the breast.


Mahratta woodpecker

Photo Courtesy of J.M. Garg @ Hodal,Faridabad Dist. Haryana, Feb 2006

Here is a female bird.Notice that her entire head is washed in dull yellow.The red patch on belly region of these birds is visible in this photo.

Yellow_crowned_Woodpecker_Female_backview

Photo Courtesy of J.M. Garg @ Hodal,Faridabad Dist. Haryana, Feb 2006

This back view of a female bird gives you an opportunity to note the details of the white and black pattern of this bird. For these woodpeckers, on the upper back, you can see more white bars rather than spots. Moving towards the wings, there are white spots.

Given below is another back view, but this time, it is a male bird.Here also, you can see the difference in pattern in the upperback vs the pattern on the folded wings.You can see the smoky brown pattern starting from lower cheeks, running down along sides of neck and onto breast.Dendrocopos mahrattensis

Photo Courtesy of Shrikant Rao @ B R Hills,Karnataka, Mar 2008

These woodpeckers are smaller compared to the flamebacks.These birds are approximately the size of a myna bird whereas the larger flamebacks are crow sized.The yellow-crowned woodpeckers feed on ants and grubs.The nesting season is from January to May.Both sexes participate in nest hole excavation,incubation and care of the young.

Now let us delve into a bit of history.There is this word Mahratta in their current scientific name as well as their older common name the Mahratta woodpecker. What does that word mean? Wikipedia says that this word could either stand for an older spelling of the Maratha Empire (1674–1820) or the Maratha caste or the Marathi language and those speaking Marathi,mainly living in the state of Maharashtra in India. India1760map

Photo from  Wikipedia Maratha Empire page.The region marked in yellow is the Maratha Empire @ 1760

I guess this woodpecker was referred as Mahratta woodpecker for being found throughout the old Maratha empire(then spelled as Mahratta in English). Whatever it is, an interesting point I noticed is that the current range of the Mahratta woodpecker in India and the boundaries of the Maratha empire at its peak are almost the same.

References
1.The Book of Indian Birds By Salim Ali,BNHS,1941
2.Birds of an Indian Village By Douglas Dewar,Oxford University Press,1929
3.Yellow-crowned Woodpecker page @ Wikipedia
4.Yellow-crowned Woodpecker page @ xeno-canto
5.Wikipedia pages for Mahratta and Maratha Empire

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